Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sex Ed series

I've been thinking about sex ed lately, both because of my kids beginning to ask questions and because of issues that friends are dealing with. This was one of the areas in which my own parents were very weak, and one which my husband and I have intentionally worked at with our children. It is so important that we teach them the physical stuff, as well as the emotional/relational stuff, (disease prevention, biology, contraception, consent, respect, intimacy, etc) and that we avoid turning limits of morality into shame. I came across the following series on another blog, and I thought I'd share. I don't agree with every minute detail here, (there are areas in which this blogger is probably a bit more conservative than I am) and I don't agree with everything else on her blog or that she links to, in case anyone is wondering. However, I thought it was generally very good, very balanced, and well worth sharing.

The above is a link to all the posts (they're generally quite short) in the series. A few quotes:

"Perhaps the biggest distortion I see is the idolization of virginity.  So many portray it as the be all end all standard of sexual purity.  First of all, I think that sexual purity is just as important after marriage as before, and in fact, more so.  Furthermore, sexual purity isn't just lack of vaginal intercourse.  Such a narrow focus on outward behavior causes us to lose sight of the heart issue.  Some wind up doing everything except for vaginal intercourse, and have no idea of the possible consequences of things like oral sex, pornography, and other forms of sexual activity.  Others who do have sex feel that they are forever "second hand goods".  Both are terrible distortions of what sexual purity really means."

 also find the double standard with gender that many adopt to be deeply disturbing. Sexual purity is for men as well as women, and the stereotypes of men as slavering beasts and women as cold manipulators are both inaccurate and degrading.  Both men and women are created with a strong sex drive.  That is a good thing.  And both are capable of self control.  That is also a good thing.  Women should be able to be themselves and dress comfortably without being consumed with worry about "causing their brothers to stumble".  Guys shouldn't be automatically viewed as predators simply because they have a penis.  Sex should never be seen as a commodity to trade in exchange for emotional security, and women shouldn't feel ashamed of wanting sex."

"Romance novels and romantic comedies have been called “porn for women.” It’s not just because some of the scenes can get steamy, but because of the unrealistic expectations they set up. Just as all bodies are perfect or airbrushed and exaggerated in proportion in a girlie magazine, all life is unrealistically centered on romance in those entertainments. The souls and emotions of the people portrayed in the pages and on the screen are no more real than the bodies enhanced with silicone, makeup, lighting and digital wizardry in a pornographic image or film.

These are not the messages I want my daughter to grow up with.

Not only does it objectify the male gender as a means to fulfilling romantic dreams, but for me at least, it resulted in a limited understanding of my own value as a human being, and a reduced ability to trust God with my romantic future. "

We teach our children about gender stereotypes from our first observations.  Do our girls hear that they are strong and powerful?  Do our boys learn that we value tenderness and sensitivity?  Our society is so proficient at marketing gender roles that by age three, most girls and boys know that pink is a girl color, and blue is for boys, that girls are princesses (passive and prissy) and boys are tough and active.  As toddlers, my little girl loved blue and Spiderman, and my son loved dolls and sparkly clothes.  Within just a couple of years, though, they were telling each other that blue was for boys and dolls are for girls. I believe that colors are gender-neutral, and that both sons and daughters grow up to be parents.  But we must speak up if we don't want our children to think there is something wrong with them.

"We teach our children about body image through our own.  Do they hear us putting ourselves down and criticizing our own bodies?  Do we point out our flaws or gripe about our weight?  Do they hear us make comments about other people and laugh at their appearance?  Each word nails in deeper the truth about our values, and what their own bodies are worth.

We also teach them about sexuality when they first begin to say no.  Comments like, "Give grandma a kiss or she'll be sad!" teach them to ignore their own body boundaries and give feigned affection to placate adults.  Acknowledging and respecting their right to say no to unwanted touches is vital.  It may mean intervening when relatives or friends try to bully them with unwanted hugs, kisses or tickles.  The message we send about their right to say no is far more important than a miffed adult."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where "Modesty" Leads, and the response of one very brave woman.

Amira Osman Hamed is fighting a law in Sudan which says that she must wear hijab and cover her hair. SHe refuses to do so, even though her refusal could mean a severe beating. My hat is off to this woman, who is risking much in standing up for right and justice.

Says the article:

"Sudanese woman says she is prepared to be flogged to defend the right to leave her hair uncovered in defiance of a "Taliban"-like law."

Amira Osman Hamed faces a possible whipping if convicted at a trial which could come on September 19.

Under Sudanese law her hair -- and that of all women -- is supposed to be covered with a "hijab". But Hamed, 35, refuses to wear one.

Her case has drawn support from civil rights activists and is the latest to highlight Sudan's series of laws governing morality which took effect after the 1989 Islamist-backed coup by President Omar al-Bashir.

"They want us to be like Taliban women," Hamed said in an interview with AFP, referring to the fundamentalist militant movement in Afghanistan.

She is charged under Article 152 which prohibits "indecent" clothing.

Activists say the vaguely worded law leaves women subject to police harassment and disproportionately targets the poor in an effort to maintain "public order".

"This public order law changed Sudanese women from victims to criminals," says Hamed, a divorced computer engineer who runs her own company.

"This law is targeting the dignity of Sudanese people."

Friday, September 6, 2013

Because You Can Never Have Too Many Cute Kid Moments....

My oldest, Mr. 6 1/2 yr old, just joined the Cub Scouts. He is excited- well, that's actually an understatement. He is already planning badges to earn and projects to do. My second child, Mr. 5 yr old, can't be in Scouts for another year due to his age. Mr. 6 was very worried that his little brother would feel left out, so they got up early a couple of mornings ago and Mr. 6 made Mr. 5 a shirt, hat, bag, "handbook," and "sash" out of construction paper. Mr. 6 then proceeded to come up with "badges" that Mr. 5 could earn, and they spent most of the day going through them. The "badges" were cute- little circles made out of construction paper, taped to the sash- but the activities were the best. There was a "building with legos" badge, a "geography and touring" badge, (for that one, Mr. 5 had to visit every room in the house) a "crafting with paper" badge, etc, etc. They had such fun, and watching them run around "doing badge stuff" with all the attendant whispering and giggling was simply delightful. (We aren't starting the homeschool semester until next week, so they had time for all this.)

An Edit to the Facebook Post

I added the following to my earlier post about how not to embarrass yourself on facebook:

For Religious Folks Who Love their Scriptures (and on a slightly more serious note)

I'm a Christian. That fact is not exactly a secret. I believe that the Bible is inspired and authoritative, and should be my rule of faith and practice. Sometimes, when I'm talking with people, whether on facebook, via email, in person, etc, I reference scripture as a catalyst or justification for something. However, I am not telepathic. I wish that I were, because that would be simply awesome, but I am not. Therefore, I cannot throw out a great scripture passage without any explanation and expect people to understand why I used it and the point I was trying to make with it. Which brings me to:

1. Don't quote a scripture without telling your audience why you quoted it, what you think it says, and how it relates to the subject at hand, unless the literal text speaks directly to your subject so clearly that.... actually, not even then. Never. A few words of explanation will cost you little and foster exponentially better communication. For example: If I'm talking about.....and this is just a hypothetical..... why I left a previous church and someone comes back with "and every man did what was right in his own eyes," I would have no idea whether they were indulging in satire, disapproving of me, or disapproving of someone else. That could mean almost anything, depending on context. Which brings me to

2. Use something that's actually relevant when quoting scripture. Resist the temptation to use Ecc. 11:4  "He who observes the wind will not sow, And he who regards the clouds will not reap" as a justification for your not wanting your child to be a meteorologist, for example. It's also probably not a good idea to use the verse about God's spirit hovering over the waters when you're talking about helicopters. You get the idea.

3. Don't assume that everyone interprets scripture as you do. (one reason why elaboration is so, so necessary) Believe it or not, even within mainstream evangelical/protestant Christianity, there has never been a single, universal interpretation of every verse of the Bible. There are traditional ways to interpret things, but those have never really been entirely unchallenged. Try to remember that your interpretation is just that, and that people can be just as committed to the authority of scripture and to responsible hermeneutics as you are and still come up with a different interpretation. If you disagree with someone's interpretation, by all means tell them, giving sound historical and logical reasons for your take on things. You may still end up in sincere disagreement, but it's no reason why you can't be friends.

4. Don't use scripture to beat your friends over the head with wrongdoing unless you are really close, have a relationship that lends itself to mutual accountability, and are in private.

5. You can be a Christian without using scripture to back up everything you say on the internet. It is ok to argue a rational point. Since your faith should color everything you do, you are not doing it a disservice by occasionally leaving it out of unrelated arguments. Scripture is wonderful, but do you need to cite specific verses in a conversation about teething or immunizations or healthcare? Probably not.